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Friday, 31 March, 2000, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Saudi Arabia denies rights abuses
A public execution caught on video in 1996
Saudi Arabia has rejected allegations by the humans rights group, Amnesty International, that it sanctions the widespread torture and abuse of detainees.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that the kingdom respected human rights and recalled that Saudi Arabia is a signatory to United Nations conventions on torture.

Torture and inhumane treatment are punishable crimes under the law of the kingdom

Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman
On Wednesday the kingdom invited a UN special rapporteur to visit the country and investigate the independence of its courts and judges.

"The state guarantees the safety of all its citizens and residents, and no-one can be interrogated or detained except as allowed by law," the spokesman was quoted as saying in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

"Torture and inhumane treatment are punishable crimes under the law of the kingdom.

"If the necessary evidence is not produced against a person accused of having committed a crime, that person is released."

Earlier this week, an Amnesty report accused the kingdom of arbitrary arrests, torture and executions, and the persecution of political opponents and religious minorities.

Executions continue

Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic law mandates the death penalty for anyone convicted of murder, rape, drug trafficking or armed robbery. Executions are carried out with a sword in a public square.

Poor migrant workers are most vulnerable to abuse
On Friday, a Saudi Interior Ministry statement said that a man convicted of murdering his father had been executed in the northern city of Arar.

Khalaf bin Saleh al-Jawfi's death brought to 14 the number of people beheaded in the kingdom this year. Last year, at least 99 people were executed.

Amnesty and other human rights organisations have criticised the executions, saying the accused do not receive fair trials.

This week's Amnesty report accused the Saudi justice system of allowing defendants to be tortured and tried in secret.

"Incommunicado detention, a criminal justice system which from the outset treats suspects as guilty, and the lack of independent mechanisms for reporting torture and investigations into allegations, all foster a climate of impunity," it said.

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28 Mar 00 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia 'buys silence' on abuse
28 Mar 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Saudi rough justice
17 Mar 00 | Middle East
Amnesty demands Saudi probe
02 Oct 99 | Middle East
Last-minute reprieve for Saudi killer
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